March 28, 2009

Accountablity, Emo, and So On

Remember Th1rteen R3asons Why?

I'm glad the book seems to be being quite successful- I've heard it mentioned frequently in discussions of YA literature.

I read a review today that pointed out that, although she enjoyed the book, there are a surprising number of one and two star reviews on

I'd like to examine these reviews further.

There are three main complaints- that Hannah doesn't assume accountability of her actions; that she has no real problems; and that she is an annoying, whiny bitch on top of that. More that one person (parents, I'm assuming) also claimed the book is not appropriate for teenagers.

Accountability in a suicide is always very tricky, to say the least. We all saw that in the Megan Meier and Hannah Bond cases. The reviewers claim that Hannah forces the blame and guilt of her suicide on others (which she does) but does not take credit for her own actions. The very definition of suicide is the act of taking one's own life. Hannah made a conscious choice to swallow the pills; she didn't have them forced down her throat. There are thirteen reasons that influenced her to make that decision, and she chooses to let people know if they are involved.

In my opinion, a person makes the final choice in regards to his suicide, but there is always an outside event, a trigger, that leads him to consider it. No one is isolated in their own mind and no one commits suicide for no reason.

Which leads us to the next complaint: Hannah's problems do not constitute a suicide. There's plenty of people out there who believe nothing constitutes a suicide, but reviewers say they kept waiting for something even more atrocious to happen to her and one even claims that
"[h]alf of all high-school girls will go through most of what Hannah went
through.... [the book] will be extremely confusing to teens that are facing real
problems with depression, as they see a girl that has plenty of reasons, none of
which are anywhere near as bad as theirs, and lose all hope for themselves if
someone with so few real problems wasn't able to find a way to get through

Hannah is clearly depressed. Already in a fragile state, she was RAPED. Severe depression is severe depression, never mind what brought it on.

The whole "good reason to commit suicide" thing has always bugged me. Where do you draw the line? And who is someone to judge another's emotional torment? Individuals respond to situations different ways. The suicidal person is obviously considering suicide, so the reasons seem valid enough to him or her.

And if one half of high school girls go through this, Th1rteen R3asons Why is exactly the kind of book we need to raise awareness of bullying and other hurtful actions.

Finding Hannah's character whiny and annoying probably ties in with her lack of "real" problems or is just personal preference. That said, I thought Hannah's character was realistic, likable, and well done.

There is one review I need to respond to in particular now, or else I may explode, which pretty much sums it all up (WARNING: massive spelling/grammar issues):
the summary of this book is way better than the actual book.i hated it so
much it is just so boring she sends people the tapes for the dumbest reasons
there almost like oh you looked at me so im gonna commit suicide because of it.
its so dumb........i suggest you to not read this book because it will be waste
of youre time....

Boring? Dumb? Personal preference???

It deeply saddens me to realize, once again, that no matter how powerfully depression, mental illness, and suicide are portrayed there are some people who will never get it. In Th1rteen R3asons Why, they are the tormentors of Hannah. In my life, they torment me. One of those people wrote this review. They ignore the reason the book was written and the message it attempts to convey, but prove the reality of it at the same time.

And finally, if this book is such a reality, you can't say it's inappropriate. Before you complain about the sex and suicide, the partying and drinking, the rape and language, visit the halls of the local high school and listen to what the teenagers are actually saying. You can't censor life.

And since this was such a depressing post, I'll leave you with a cute puppy cupcake:



    Now I've got that out of my system ...

    Excellently argued and well-written post.

  2. I'm digging the cupcake... and your post. Well said, Mariah. People who do not know how to appreciate the book are no doubt, likely to be the thickest blockheads around or simply do not have the ability to look to think out of their enclosed and filthy boxes of shallow thought.

  3. lol good idea with the puppy cupcake :).

    Appreciated the post... well argued. *nods emphatically*

  4. Good post, I like your comment that you can't censor life. I guess a lot of people just don't, or can't, understand depression. I know people who think that I just whine and moan, they don't accept that it's a genuine illness. Many people, partly because they haven't experienced it, can't comprehend how depression comes about and how bad it is.

    On a lighter note, love the cupcake! Majorly cute.